custody, Wheaton family lawyersIf you are an Illinois parent who is considering ending your marriage through divorce, you probably have many questions about what the custody process will look like. Child custody and visitation are called the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time in the law. Illinois courts will always do what they believe to be in the best interest of the child when it comes to decisions about parental responsibility and guardianship. Except in cases involving domestic violence or child abuse, it is assumed that having both parents involved in the child’s life is the ideal custody scenario.

Does the Court Always Decide Custody?

Unmarried parents or divorcing parents who wish to share custody of minor children are required to create a “parenting agreement” or parenting plan. This plan outlines what is expected from each parent in terms of custody, visitation, and involvement in the child’s upbringing. The court only intervenes when parents cannot reach such an agreement about parental responsibilities and parenting time.

Do Children Have a Say in Custody Decisions?

The answer to whether or not children can decide who they live with varies case by case. Courts are more likely to consider the desires of older children who can give a good reason for why they wish to live with a certain parent. Ultimately, the court will make the custody decision based on what is in the child’s best interest.

Does Illinois Law Favor Mothers Over Fathers in Terms of Child Custody?

Illinois law does not favor a child’s mother over the other parent. Instead, the courts wills consider the following factors when determining a custody order:

  • The custody desires of the parents;
  • Each parent’s mental and physical health;
  • Which parent has traditionally been the child’s primary caretaker;
  • The relationships between the parents and the child;
  • Whether the parents can cooperate and collaborate with each other;
  • The living arrangements of the parents;
  • Any allegations of abuse; and
  • Whether or not either of the parents is a registered sex offender.

This list is not exhaustive and Illinois courts may consider other factors not listed here when deciding custody.

Can a Parent with Mental Illness or Substance Abuse Issues Get Custody of their Child?

Having a mental illness such as bipolar disorder or major depression does not automatically disqualify parents from having custody of their children. The same is true for substance abuse or addiction issues. However, Illinois courts will not assign custody to a parent who they believe cannot provide a safe and loving home.

Contact an Experienced DuPage Family Law Attorney

If you have further questions about child custody in Illinois, reach out to the highly skilled Wheaton, Illinois divorce lawyers at Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath LLC. Call 630-665-2500 today to schedule a consultation with our team of dedicated professionals.



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Wheaton divorce attorneysMoney troubles are not uncommon among divorcing couples. In fact, a recent study on the money habits of married couples found that finances were the main stressor in 35 percent of all relationships. Statistics also show that an alarming number of people hide debt, money, and large purchases from their significant other; as many as 7.2 million Americans are hiding money from their spouse, and approximately 6 percent of married persons say they have a secret credit card or bank account that their spouse does not know about.

Sadly, all this hidden debt and money can come back to haunt a couple that breaks down and decides to divorce. In some cases, it may even leave parties with massive amounts of debt that can only be relieved through bankruptcy. How should you proceed if this is your situation?

The answer to that question depends on a number of factors – everything from the toxicity of your current situation to you and your spouse’s income and amount of marital debt.

Understanding Why You Cannot File for Bankruptcy and Divorce at the Same Time

While it might seem easier to complete both the divorce and bankruptcy process at the same time, the courts will not allow the cases to overlap. That is because bankruptcy may require a temporary freeze or hold on your assets; the divorce process requires that you disburse those assets in an equitable manner. In short, the two processes are counterintuitive when done at the same time. As such, parties will need to decide whether they should file for bankruptcy first, or if  it might be best to proceed with the divorce process and then file for bankruptcy, independently, once the divorce has been finalized.

Filing for Bankruptcy First versus Filing for Divorce First 

When divorcing parties are in an amicable situation, it is often preferred that they proceed first with the bankruptcy process, and then the divorce. The reasoning for this is simple: filing for bankruptcy first simplifies the divorce process and saves the parties money because they are filing jointly, rather than individually.

However, there are many situations in which it may not be appropriate to wait for the divorce. Examples might include situations involving domestic violence or the abuse of a child. Whatever your decision, it is important to ensure that you have a seasoned attorney on your side, protecting your interests during the divorce settlement process, and while negotiating with your creditors.

Contact Our Wheaton Family Law Attorneys

If debt is mounting and your relationship is ending, Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC is the firm to trust. Backed by more than 40 years of experience, our DuPage County divorce lawyers can help you determine which divorce path may be most appropriate for your situation. Call 630-665-2500 and schedule your consultation to get started.


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Wheaton alimony attorneysEven though alimony is not awarded as frequently in divorce as it once was, it is still an important (and often contentious) element in some divorce situations. It can ensure a disabled or disadvantaged spouse has at least some financial resources as they attempt to rebuild their life (perhaps by going back to school to start a new career or re-entering their former career field). Alimony can also ensure a family unit is financially stable in the months immediately following a divorce.

Thanks to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, alimony laws in the United States will undergo some monumental changes in 2019. A provision, which has been in place for more than 70 years now, will be completely eliminated, and it is expected to negatively affect many divorcing couples in the year to come. Learn how you can prepare for the upcoming alimony changes, and discover how our seasoned Wheaton family law attorneys can assist with mitigating against the potential issues in your Illinois divorce.

How the Tax Act is Changing Alimony in 2019

For more than 70 years, payers of alimony in the United States have been able to claim their payments as a taxable deduction on their annual tax returns. Spouses who received alimony were also required to report their alimony payments as taxable income. Both aspects of the alimony law will be changing, come 2019; payers no longer receive a taxable deduction, and receiving spouses no longer have to report their alimony as income.

Projected to raise $6.9 billion for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) over the next decade, the alimony changes are expected to leave the entire family unit with less money. Paying spouses have relied on the tax deduction to offset their overall cost of paying alimony; without it, they remain in the same tax bracket, which could make them subject to higher taxation at the end of the year. As a result, they may be unable to pay as much in alimony, meaning the receiving spouse, though no longer required to claim alimony as taxable income, will likely receive a substantially smaller alimony payment each month to even out the annual discretionary spending amount available to each spouse.

If that sounds a bit confusing, rest assured that you are not alone. In fact, there are aspects of divorce and alimony that are essentially “in limbo.” For example, no one can say for certain how pre-existing alimony agreements will be handled, such as those found in prenuptial agreements that have not been updated to reflect the new laws.

Our Wheaton Divorce Attorneys Can Help You Plan for the Upcoming Changes to Alimony

While some couples may be able to complete an agreement before the end of 2018, most divorcing parties can now expect to be impacted by the upcoming alimony changes. Protect your family’s financial future and your best interests. Contact Stock, Carlson, Oldfield & McGrath, LLC for a personalized consultation. Our seasoned and skilled DuPage County divorce lawyers have more than 40 years of experience. Call our office at 630-665-2500 today.


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